An update on our new primary care engagement strategy

  11 February 2019  NWMPHN   

In 2018, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) completed an extensive consultation process, as part of the development of our new primary care engagement strategy. More than 350 primary care providers were involved, either in focus groups, phone interviews or by hosting in-practice focus groups.

In December 2018, we received an extensive set of recommendations from consultants Siggins Miller, which our Board and Executive have endorsed. We have now begun actioning these recommendations and designing our new strategy.

The new strategy will place primary care at the centre of our work to provide better care every day, in every way, for our community.

What does this mean? This is how we will respond to what we heard from primary care providers: 

1. We heard that you want greater clarity on the role of the PHN and what support we provide. 

We will improve the way we communicate with you, based on your preferences. We are also redesigning our website and other communications channels to keep you informed of what you want to know about, including how we can support you.

General practice
Quality improvement is the foundation of the new engagement and support model. We will provide you with practical tools, including practice data reports, to determine priority areas for improvement. We will then tailor our support to empower you to meet your goals.

Allied health and pharmacy
We will continue to provide you with information on relevant reforms such as SafeScript, My Health Record and the NDIS. We will also support new interdisciplinary networks to connect primary health care providers locally, including general practice, allied health, pharmacy and – where relevant – hospital colleagues. These networks will provide a forum for education and training, shared learning and discussion on relevant local and reform issues and referral pathways.

2. We heard that you want to know how you can be involved with the PHN or who to contact if you have an enquiry. ​

We want to increase the clinical involvement in our planning. As part of the new strategy, we will recruit a General Practice Advisory Group of GPs, nurses and practice managers from our region to provide advice on our projects, education and training, communications and resources. This group will help us to identify areas of importance for general practice and primary health care more broadly.

We will also be creating a single phone line and email address that you can use to contact the PHN to direct your queries. See also point seven below.

3. We heard that you would like assistance from the PHN to implement health reforms and get ready for changes with toolkits, plus information for your patients. 

We are developing new communications specifically for primary care that will provide information on health reforms, what these mean for your work and how the PHN can support you.

We will continue to develop toolkits, like our QI Guide and Tools, to support you with reform changes and provide planned onsite assistance for those that wish to engage.

4. We heard that you want us to advocate to government on your behalf. 

We are establishing a mechanism to gather your feedback on health reform changes and other important issues that we can use to advocate to government on your behalf. We will be transparent about when our Board or Councils are advocating to government on behalf of our region.

5. We heard that you want to be able to access PHN events close to your home, work or online.

We are investing in a webinar platform to allow you to access education and training online at a time that suits you. We are also planning to run more events across the catchment to allow you to access these closer to work or home.

6. We heard that you feel isolated and want to network with your peers. You also said that you want to network with local general practices and other primary care providers and be included in interdisciplinary events in your region.

We will continue to run the successful practice managers networking groups across the region, however these will have a stronger educational focus and provide a platform to support implementation of reform. We will also bring back the nurses networking group to allow nurses to receive education and connect with peers.

As part of the strategy we will be introducing localised interdisciplinary networking to bring together the whole practice team, allied health and pharmacy. These groups will receive education and discuss issues relevant to the whole primary health care team including broad health reforms and local matters such as referral pathways.

7. We heard that you want a specific contact at the PHN who actions enquiries and knows your practice. You want this person to build a strong relationship with your practice team and to coordinate everything that the PHN does with your practice. 

As part of the new engagement strategy each general practice will be allocated a specific contact at the PHN. This person will get to know your practice and build a relationship with your team. They will help to engage the whole practice team in change activities.

Your PHN contact will work with you to develop a plan for how we will work with your practice over a period of 12 months. This will include when and how we engage with you for face-to-face visits and areas your practice will focus on for improvements. They will also help with PENCAT, MBS items and quality improvement methodology. Your contact will coordinate everything that the PHN does with your practice.

Over the next three months we will be reorganising the way we work internally to implement this new model. This may mean some changes to staff, but we will continue to support you over this period.

Bianca Bell has been appointed Director, Primary Health Care Improvement, and will continue to lead this key transformation. Please feel free to contact Bianca direct if you have any questions: or (03) 9347 1188.

Keep your eye out for further information on the detail of the model by the end of February.